Baltimore Orioles: Tommy Hunter was part of something special
First and foremost, I hope that Baltimore Orioles fans will join me in wishing Tommy Hunter well in Chicago. And on a similar note he’s very lucky in that he’s going from one special ballpark and tradition to another. Hunter called The Ballpark That Forever Changed Baseball home for the past three years or so, and now he’ll head to The Friendly Confines.
The trade deadline is always somewhat nerve-wracking for players who might potentially be on the move. In Hunter’s case, his trade literally came right up against the deadline. And he also literally found out that he was traded by reporters huddled around his locker – the Orioles’ PR staff had been unable to get to him before the news broke on twitter and other social media. Some people will argue that’s part of the job, and in this day and age they’re probably right. But make no mistake about the fact that I think it’s incredibly unfair; who among us would want to find something out about their job status from third-parties as such?
However that aside, Hunter now has to move on and be as good of a reliever as he can be with the Chicago Cubs. However I do think that it’s worth noting something that WJZ-13’s Mark Viviano addressed on this afternoon’s “Wall to Wall Baseball” Show on MASN. Viviano mentioned that Tommy Hunter was a part of what became a very close-knit group of players that in effect oversaw the return to glory of a once great franchise. While many fans like to mock Hunter and claim that all he does is give up home runs, think about that for a moment.
Hunter was traded to the Orioles as part of the trade which brought Chris Davis here in 2011 (the O’s sent Koji Uehara to Texas in exchange for those two). They joined the likes of Adam Jones, Nick Markakis, Matt Wieters, and others to form a team that would immediately become part of the post season discussion the following year – up to and including now. However even before that, many of these guys gelled together; how can one forget the close of the 2011 season that September?!
To his credit, Hunter seemed like he genuinely was going to miss Baltimore and his Orioles teammates. Over that period of time, there’s been no closer-knit team. Hunter addressed this, and his experiences in Baltimore almost immediately after getting the news of the trade (quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko of MASNsports):
"There were some great times. Just look at the last four years. Came over in ’11 and the crazy thing that happened in ’11 in September, just the way the team played. That was probably one of the coolest months I’ve had in baseball, in 2011, when this team finished last and the walk-off and all that crazy stuff that happened at the end of the year. And ’12, shocking the world, I guess, and doing everything. And ’13, missing it a little bit. And ’14 having that Delmon Young hit, probably the loudest stadium I’ve ever been in. There’s a lot of fun times here and a lot of good people and a lot of friendships made. Hopefully, they continue through the years."
Ultimately my point is the fact that my hope is that Orioles fans remember Hunter with fond memories. Pitchers are going to give up home runs – especially relievers. However Tommy Hunter is a name that should forever by synonymous with the Orioles returning to their rightful place in baseball. In no way am I suggesting that he was the sole reason for that or anything of the like. But he’s a part of a group of guys that really did something special with this team and this city.
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Ten or fifteen years from now, the core group of Orioles from 2012 until whenever will still be viewed as hero’s to the people in the city. Even if the Birds go off and become a dynasty of sorts which lasts until that time, it will always have started with many of the names (and more) that I addressed above. (Heck, I would argue that it all began with a walk off RBI-double by Robert Andino.) And Tommy Hunter is very much a part of that group. Baltimore is a place where special people are always remembered well, even long after their time.
And my hope is that Orioles fans remember that. If this franchise goes onward to win a World Series this year or in the future, odds are that Hunter won’t be a part of it. (Keeping in mind of course that he could still return as a free agent after the season.) However he’ll still hold a special place in the lore of this franchise, being such a part of the resurgence of the Orioles. And again, my hope is that Orioles fans keep that sentiment close to their hearts.
Next: Baltimore Orioles: Trade Talks with Chicago for Tommy Hunter